Florence and its markets. Sooner or later I’d love to tell you about every market in Florence, Sant’Ambrogio, San Lorenzo… markets who lived through the pages of history and novels. Each market has a peculiar soul, its loving customers and its interesting story.
Today grab your favourite armchair or choose your preferred corner of the sofa and follow me among the antique stalls of the market which is held every third weekend of the month in the park surrounding la Fortezza (from September to June, July and August are way too hot, and if you’ve visited Florence during the heat of summer you will agree with me that this is a wise decision). I stumbled upon this market last year in May, walking by the park around la Fortezza, and I immediately recorded mentally a proper visit in my never ending to-do list.
Spring came, bright and warm, and we decided it was time to visit the market.
It is hard to find a proper flea market in Florence, a place where to rummage to fall in love for copper pans worn out by time, old laces, tiny essence bottles already vanished, as the memories of those who used to buy them, and vintage soda commercial signs faded by the weather. You could visit the flea market in Piazza dei Ciompi, true, but prices are quite high, though it is definitely intriguing to get lost among the tiny shops, spotting old wrought iron chandeliers and fashionable hats.
The Fortezza antique market has a special charm, especially during warm spring days. It is not cheap but if you take your time and enjoy scanning all the stalls you may end up finding old copper moulds and pots, which you’ll soon see on these pages…
There is no screaming, shouting or attempt to bargain, you can barely hear the city traffic in the distance, muffled by the trees of the park. You see people rummaging into old boxes of silverware and brass handles, you hear the laughter of children running free along the pond chasing the ducks and the more or less credible talks among cunning vendors and curious customers.
Where to eat a good panino in Florence?
After a morning spent at the flea market, when the day is warm and spring makes you want to walk aimlessly, what’s better than grabbing a panino and eating it on a bench or poised on a stool, looking at the people passing by? Everyone in Florence has his own favourite places, someone would tell you with enthusiasm where to go, someone else would rather keep it secret, jealously guarding the small shop where to buy the perfect panino. These are some addresses and panini I’ve tried so far which I really would recommend. Would you add any address?
- If you want to experience a classic panino and if you feel like queueing with locals, students and tourists, do not miss the most renowned Florentine street food, panino al lampredotto. Check this old post for addresses, recipes and traditions.
- My most recent discovery and love at first sight is Semel, in Piazza Ghiberti, right in front of the Sant’Ambrogio Market. Go there if you are looking for the freshest panini with the most unusual and gourmet filling, from donkey meat to puntarelle with anchovies and orange, up to ricotta and spinach dumplings with pheasant in a sandwich. Yes, in a sandwich.
- I Maledetti Toscani is a tiny shop in via dei Cerchi 19/r, close to via dei Calzaiuoli, just in the historical centre of Florence. Choose among cold cuts, cheeses, vegetables and spreads to fill your panino or focaccia and have a glass of wine. Cheap and oh so good.
- All’Antico Vinaio, in via de’ Neri, is another option if you want a generously filled panino at a very good price in the town centre.
- Amblé is less traditional, slightly hipster with a vegetarian attitude, here you can compose your sandwich choosing among a wide range of bread, vegetables, meat, fish and spreads. Excellent juices and teas.